Thoughts on Hobby Lobby & Religion [GUEST POST]

[This is a Guest Post by Guest Blogger Frank Maier]

Some thoughts about the Hobby Lobby situation…

The First Amendment (Bill of Rights – U.S. Constitution).
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Right off the bat, we have a problem with the word “right.” There are many interpretations of this word but I‘m gonna stick with the legal (functional!) usage. Libertarians, beware.

Rights are not absolute. In the two-hundred-plus years of our history, several limitations have been enumerated on each of the rights listed in this amendment. You’re all familiar with the classic limitation example on speech – yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. There’s actually quite a lengthy list of restrictions on this right, just as there are limitations on all of these rights. In the Hobby Lobby case, we’re talking about religious rights; so let’s examine that.

In 1878, while considering polygamy, the Supreme Court said, "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices." They maintained that polygamy, like human sacrifice, could be litigated against, despite a plaintiff’s religious beliefs.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said about White soi-disant Christians and their beliefs about Black men, It may betrue that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.” In reality, the law sometimes couldn’t even prosecute lynchings, much less prevent them; but that’s a problem with function, not theory.

These days, the salient concept is “compelling interest.” Whether it’s Seventh Day Adventists working on Saturday, Native Americans taking peyote, or Santeria animal sacrifice, the Supreme Court relies, at root, on “compelling interest” principally because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was reaffirmed in the 2006 Gonzales v. UDV ruling.

Hobby Lobby’s position, as far as I can tell (for that matter, this entire philippic is just my opinion based on my limited knowledge of what’s actually going on here.), is that they believe that IUDs, “Plan B,” and Levonelle are abortifacients and their sole resistance to complying with the law is based on those particular items. Aside from the fact that this belief is scientifically/factually incorrect, other evangelical Christians who tried to talk to the Hobby Lobby about their position were turned away by security forces. Those evangelicals wanted to say to Hobby Lobby that these devices and pills are not abortifacients but are simply a different form of contraception, which Hobby Lobby claims to support. The petition from these evangelicals states that Hobby Lobby is simply using their “faith” as an excuse to oppose health care reform and deny women access to birth control.

Well.

The reality is that the lower courts have denied Hobby Lobby’s challenge and now they’ve lost their appeal to the Supreme Court. That leaves Hobby Lobby in the position where they have the choice to comply with the law or pay the fine. Render unto Caesar, folks. It’s that simple. Your religious beliefs do not constitute a unilateral right and they do not trump the rights of your employees in your secular business.

Me, I believe that these Medieval flat-earthers simply hate living in the real America, which is not a fundamentalist theocracy, and this is a cri de coeur against the cruel truth of reality and the harsh truth of science which contradicts their weltanschauung daily. As Neil deGrasse Tyson so bluntly stated, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance."

But that’s just my belief, which has very little bearing on reality.

About Guest Author Frank Maier in his own words:
Raised New Orleans Catholic. Educated by the Jesuits Trivium/Quadrivium style. Need some Latin translated? Didn't think so. Retired from Microsoft. Unschooling dad. Atheist. Bertrand Russell-style hard-headed pragmatist. Wannabe Renaissance Man. Reader. Sports lover. SCUBA diver, sailor, pilot, saving to buy a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight so I can add "astronaut" to that list. You can view my blog at http://pvmaro.blogspot.com

10 comments:

  1. The best description of "right" that I ever heard was, "A 'right' is not something that you automatically get. A 'right' is merely the promise that you can seek redress ('right the situation') after you've been wronged."
    Seems apropos here, somewhat - in that Hobby Lobby was ordered to comply while the court challenge went through to whatever disposition it would see in the end.


    More on topic, however - I find it somewhat shocking how often entire corporate offices seem to be flying by the seat of their pants in situations like this. All those highly paid C-Staff and Lawyers, and apparently none of them were able to build a consensus of "We should really look into the things we don't want to support to make sure that we stand on some defensible ground for not supporting them."

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